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[Animals] Do dogs love us?


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In case those licks and wagging tail weren't convincing enough, scientists prove what we already know. Our dogs love us. They really, really love us.


The feats that dogs undertake for their owners are the stuff of legend. News stories are filled with tales of pups leading rescue workers to injured owners and heroic dogs protecting children from animal attacks, but a question often arises in these remarkable situations: do dogs help because they love us, or because they see us as a meal ticket?

If the experts and studies are to be believed, dogs may actually love people more than food. 

"I am completely convinced that our dogs love us. There's no question in my mind," Clive Wynne(opens in new tab), a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and the director of the university's Canine Science Collaboratory, told Live Science. 

Of course, it's one thing to have an opinion about a favorite pet. Proving love — a feat that still dogs humans — is another thing entirely. But studies of varying sophistication, all conducted by inquiring dog owners, appear to back him up. 

After the death of his beloved dog, Newton, Gregory Berns(opens in new tab), a neurologist at Emory University in Georgia and author of the books "How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain(opens in new tab)" (New Harvest, 2013) and "What It's Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience(opens in new tab)," (Basic Books, 2017), said he became curious about what dogs felt and thought. So, he trained his dog, Callie, and other dogs to tolerate the noise inside the imaging chamber of an MRI and then analyzed their brain activity. He then subjected the dogs to a variety of scents from familiar and unfamiliar dogs and people. While the smell-region of the brain lit up for all 12 dogs regardless of who the person or dog was, only the familiar scents lit up the caudate nucleus, a region tied to higher-level mental processes such as emotion, motivation and reward and romantic feeling, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Behavioural Processes(opens in new tab). 

In an additional study of 15 dogs, published in 2016 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience(opens in new tab), Berns found that 86% showed a similar or higher level of caudate activation in response to praise than they did from food. 

link: https://www.livescience.com/do-dogs-love-us

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